In today's Pirate Booty we took a look at Andy Benoit's, of the NY Times, review of the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers 2010 season. Benoit went back and reviewed the film from every team to see what kind of insight he could offer. Now it's time to review what he had to say about the Oakland Raiders.
As with any outsiders' analysis of the team you follow it is easy to nitpick things they missed. We had the luxury of following this team play in and play out. Benoit's analysis is remarkably thin on misses. The one thing I would point out is this:
Yes, the Raiders had one of the best running games in the N.F.L. Problem is, they were handcuffed in the passing game. You can’t win that way. It’s remarkable they won as often as they did considering how they frequently hid Jason Campbell (you’ll never see so many variations of screen passes …).
Benoit brings up a good point. However, I think the hiding was as much about the offensive line as it was Jason Campbell. Screen passes are an offenses best friend when it comes to slowing down the pass rush. Also, the Raiders offensive line was much better getting out in space and blocking for the backs than it was at pass protection. Jump over for more....
He brings up some solid points.
Huff and Tyvon Branch were not great, but Huff had his best season thanks to a variety of space-oriented plays (more in the box, not downfield) while Branch remained functional against the run.
The problem for the Raiders was that mistakes by linebackers often resulted in big gains. The rookie middle linebacker Rolando McClain didn’t play with much instinct or lateral quickness. That’s a problem when your outside linebackers -– Kamerion Wimbley, Trevor Scott and Quintin Groves -– are converted defensive ends (even if those converted defensive ends played with good energy). Buttressing this defense was the stellar play of Tommy Kelly and the often-spectacular play of Richard Seymour.
I think he hits the nail on the head of his assessment of the LBs. It is just another reason why Rolando McClain has to take the next step in year 2 if this defense wants to improve. Hopefully, he will be aided in this by improved weakside LB play.
I think the most interesting point comes when he says that Mario Henderson is not a bust:
The four-year offensive tackle has not been the most consistent performer, but a player with his kind of athleticism can’t be hastily dismissed. Henderson was adequate in his early stints at left tackle this past season -– the coaches were just eager to get the rookie Jared Veldheer on the field. It would be worthwhile for the Raiders to commit to Henderson for at least one more season in hopes of making him a long-term starting right tackle.
Benoit certainly has a more favorable view of Henderson than I do. I would not call his play at left tackle last season as adequate. It was more of a disaster. He is not a forceful run blocker and he is a horrible pass blocking left tackle. I do not see Henderson's run blocking being strong enough to make him a solution at RT. If he was cheap enough I would not be opposed to him returning.
However, if there are teams that have the same opinion of Henderson as Benoit does I imagine he will get an offer in free agency that the Raiders will have no desire to match—nor should they.